2023 journal article
Multi-length scale characterization of point defects in thermally oxidized, proton irradiated iron oxides
A key for the success of safe nuclear power generation system is to consider structural materials that are economical, meet mechanical property needs, possess good corrosion resistance, and are radiation tolerant. Nevertheless, fundamental insights that elucidate the details of radiation damage on materials corrosion performance are lacking. This includes the behavior of surface oxides which often regulate corrosion. For example, it is unclear how non-equilibrium point defects, oxide structure, mass transport in oxides, and subsequent oxidation behavior are altered by the radiation. In this work, some of the effects of proton irradiation on the attributes of point defects, iron oxide microstructures, and the physical nature of the oxidation product were correlated with corrosion behavior. Iron oxides, fabricated by thermal oxidation in air at 400°C and 800°C for 1 h, were subjected to 200 keV, 0.03 dpa (displacements per atom) of proton irradiation, and subjected to corrosion reactivity assessment using AC and DC electrochemical methods. Experimental methods that target materials information at different length scales, such as positron annihilation spectroscopy (atomistic), transmission electron microscopy (mesoscopic), and electrochemical methods (macroscopic), were coupled to shed light on the impact of radiation-induced defect modifications and structural changes in oxides on corrosion reactivity which ultimately affects durability in harsh environments.